Cleansing Fire

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Church bureaucracy: “Spent and tired” – and dissident

November 30th, 2010, Promulgated by Mike

Fr. Raymond de Souza drew a connection last week between Pope Benedict’s comments at the recent consistory and a passage in Light of the World.

At the recent consistory of cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to his red-robed brethren about the “logic of the Cross” which should animate their leadership in the Church…

It is to be reminded that the Church is divine in her Master and very human in His servants. The logic of the Cross was difficult for the first apostles to hear directly from the Lord Jesus, and it remains a call to purification and conversion for their successors today.

In that context, the appearance of Pope Benedict’s book-length interview, Light of the World, this week was timely.

“The bureaucracy is spent and tired,” Benedict says about the institutions of governance, especially in the older Christian countries. “It is sad that there are what you might call professional Catholics who make a living on their Catholicism, but in whom the spring of faith flows only faintly, in a few scattered drops.”

It is easy enough to point to the managerial bishop or the administrative pastor and lament the lack of fervour for the faith and the absence of evangelical criteria in decision-making. But could not the same be said of any diocesan office in Canada, the staff room of any Catholic school, the executive officers of any Catholic social welfare agency or the bureaucrats that administer the vast panoply of Catholic organizations? Is it not the case that so many regard their position as membership in a club or as an officer of an enterprise, but not primarily as disciples or missionaries? The great sadness of which the Holy Father speaks is that over several generations now so many lay Catholics — “professional Catholics” — are marked by a deep adopted clericalism themselves, comporting themselves as members of a privileged caste.

While Fr. De Souza was focusing on clericalism in his native Canada, John-Henry Westen took the connection one step further (my emphasis).

Wow. It reminds me of a quote a friend on the inside once told me while reflecting on the fact that many vibrant, young, and faithful Catholics who would love to offer their all to the Church are left to find work in the secular world. “Why are all the professional jobs in the Church held by dissidents?”

To be sure there are signs of hope. Many dioceses in North America have begun to employ fervent and authentic Catholics. However the old guard remains firmly entrenched in many many places.

And one of those “many many places” is the Diocese of Rochester.

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